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The Daily Tar Heel

Kenny Selmon closes out UNC career with national title win at USATF Championship

Selmon Akkerman Rammys

Emcees Marika Akkerman (women's tennis) and Kenny Selmon (track and field) present Gwen Warren with the Unsung Hero Award at the Rammys on April 23 in Memorial Hall.

With one final meet in his college career, Kenny Selmon had accomplished just about everything he could as an amateur runner. 

Except one thing. 

Selmon is one of the most decorated North Carolina track and field athletes in program history, especially in recent years. He is a five-time All-America honoree, 14 time All-ACC selection, five-time ACC selection and the 2018 USTFCCCA Southeast Region Men's Track Athlete of the Year. 

He also qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials as a sophomore, ran the eighth fastest time in the world earlier this year and finished runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championship, his highest finish in that meet, last week. 

But with all that under his belt, he’d never won a national title in four years in Chapel Hill as a sprinter or hurdler. That is, until Saturday afternoon. 

A business major, Selmon didn't compete at the USATF Outdoor Championship last season. Instead of heading for Sacramento, Cal., last June, he chose to take an internship with Coca-Cola in Atlanta. This time around, though, he decided to give it a shot as his final meet representing the Tar Heels. 

It would be one final chance to check off the elusive national title off his list before calling it a college career. 

After running the sixth-fastest time among the competitors leading up to the final for the event, though, it didn’t look like it would be possible. He’d have to leap and amble down the track for one of the fastest times of his career to even have a chance at it — with other worthy competitors lining up beside him. 

Officials at the meet in Des Moines, Iowa, placed Selmon in lane eight — with distance away from the rest of the field after the runner in lane seven withdrew late. That made it hard for him to tell how he faired in the heat of the race, but it wouldn't stop him from doing well. 

With a time of 48.21, the second fastest he’s run in the event in his career, Selmon blazed away from the rest of the field. The second highest finisher came in nearly .300 of a second behind him, with the rest of the runners slowly trickled in without making it close. 

It was the kind of ending any college athlete might hope to have as they call an amateur career to a close.

With the win, Selmon called it a day and a career as a UNC athlete, though he’s not done running yet. The win earned him a spot on Team USA moving forward, meaning he'll run plenty of more races from here — just not any more in Chapel Hill or for the Tar Heels.  


@DTHSports |

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